Flu Season Arrives Early: Minnesotans Urged to Get Vaccine

Updated: 12/04/2012 5:38 PM KSTP.com By: Becky Nahm

The season of congestion, coughs and body aches is arriving ahead of schedule, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  

Flu season usually starts in January, but Wisconsin is already reporting four deaths and 113 confirmed cases.

The flu is widespread in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas.

So far the situation is not as bad in Minnesota. The state health department reports 57 cases, no deaths.

Fifty-seven is a big spike over previous years, not counting the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. At this time last year, there were just 11 cases. There were 24 two years ago and 13 four years ago.

Health officials say the numbers aren't a reason to panic, but they are a reason to get the vaccine.

This year's vaccine should be a good match for the strain that is making people sick. It's the same one that hit in 2003 - 2004 which turned out to be a bad flu season. This is the earliest season since then.

Cindy Larson an infection preventionist at United Hospital says early doesn't necessarily mean bad. She says the more people who get vaccinated, the more cases can be prevented.

It's not too late to get the flu shot. Health officials urge you not to wait because it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be effective in your body.

 

Questions?

The health department is holding a Twitter chat about the flu. It's Thursday from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. To ask a question or just follow allong use #askmdh.